The chart above describes average annual gasoline prices in the U.S. for the past 90 years. The black line tracks the nominal or actual gas price (the price at the pump) while the red line translates the price into 2011 dollars. There are a couple of items to note:
- For the second time since 1918, we are now paying as much in real dollars for gasoline (the first being the oil crisis in the mid-70's). Think of that. Commodity prices are supposed to go down when there is vastly more supply of that commodity. Moreover, beyond our ability to produce significantly more gasoline, we are even better at distributing it than compared to 1918, and yet we are paying the same real price as 90 years ago.
- Notice the steep climb in pricing from 1996 to today. In just 15 years gasoline has increased 233%! If we do a little math we can quickly see the average driver who travels 15,000 miles in a year and whose car gets an average of 22 miles per gallon now pays around $1,350 more to drive their car than they did in 1996! If you want to know why a dollar doesn't buy much anymore, look no further than your gas tank.
Imagine if we could return to $1.50/gallon gasoline. If you are a two-car family that's, on average, $2,700 in your pocket — each year.
“...It was a kid, smiling, at the lunch table – he had a quesadilIa, some carrots, a half an apple, a carton of milk. I thought it was a great picture... It wasn’t lobster tail and chocolate mousse. It was a simple meal designed to address a basic problem. There is absolutely nothing wrong with providing free food for a hungry kid. Not one single thing...” — Steve Miller (Thumbs up, Sat., 10/22)
I’m glad the American tax-payer could spare nearly $27 Billion dollars to bring a smile to the Herald and News’ outlook.
But, Miller’s smiley face and a happy heart come at an enormous expense. The question any good editorial journalist ought to be asking is, “Is the federal government the most efficient machine to accomplish the task?”
It's hard to believe ten years has come and gone since the Klamath Basin Water Crisis of 2001. The problem began with a very dry year. Water levels were far below normal. But the real crisis came when a Federal Agencies and Judges decided that the survival of fish was more important than anything else — including people. The result was no water to farmers and all available water was sent downstream.
But in November 2002 a report by two Oregon State researches concluded that the 2001 federal decision to withhold water from Klamath Basin farms was unjustified is laden with errors and has mainly served to fuel resentment of environmental laws.
Ideas are usually based on assumptions. Sometimes the best way to see whether an idea works or not is to dig deeper than the idea itself and test whether the assumptions are true or not.
For example, the KBRA’s dam removal proposition is based on the environmental and tribal assumption that dams along the Klamath river are the cause for lower fish populations during the 20th century. This argument assumes that had dams never been put along the Klamath river fish populations would have remained the same (higher than today). Moreover, the argument also assumes removing the dams now will return fish populations to a level reported before dams were built along the river.
On the other hand, there is an argument against dam removal which is based on the assumption that there are other, significant reasons for lower fish populations. These arguments assume that what happens while fish are in the ocean for four years matters just as much, and perhaps even more, than what happens during their journey along the river. This argument assumes making the river pristine as the wind drive snow won't matter much because the major issue isn't being addressed — what happens to the fish when at sea?
If you just listened to the rhetoric on the other side, you would probably come to the conclusion that the main obstacle to returning prosperity to the Basin is those darn dams along the Klamath river. If we could just get rid of them, we could all once again live in harmony with each other and with nature.
The gospel according to KBRA preaches that if we can get those dams to come a tumblin' down, then fish populations will magically return to numbers only seen before western europeans inhabited the land. There would be so many salmon running up and down the Klamath river we would no longer need bridges — one could just walk on fish from one side to the other.
However, this thinking all hinges on the the assertion that the Klamath River Dams are the single, significant cause for a decline in fish population during the past 60 years. What if this assertion is wrong? Could there be other explanations for fish population decline that we haven't explored or have dismissed because our world view of “dam removal or die” prevents us from seeing the truth?
The Herald and News did it again. They just can't help themselves. In Saturday, August 13th's edition on page A5, editor Steve Miller quibbles,
“To the strategists in the left and right camps, everything that anyone else says is biased. As well, no one from between the wings can simply think what the camps do or say or propose is wrong, or vain , or bad policy... it can't be other than premeditated political speech.”
Mr. Miller is making the case that reality consists of three main points of view: a “left” or liberal view, a “right” or conservative view, and finally a “middle” or neutral point of view.
“Everyone is entitled to their own opinion.” You may have learned this lesson in grade school when someone wanted a different story to be read than the one you wanted. Or maybe at home when a sibling got to choose a different television show than you wanted to watch that evening. Their opinion ruled the day and you had to live with it.
However, the problem is that not all opinions are equal. Moreover, some opinions are downright dangerous.
When someone chose a different story or television show than the ones you preferred, there was adult supervision. They weren't allowed to choose anything, but only certain things within a safe range. The opinion of some that “green is the best color”, while others claim that “orange is the best color” is certainly up for debate. But when it comes to matters of public policy the stakes are considerably higher, and something else must come into play — truth.
Unintended consequences are results that were unforseen or not well thought out when a decision was made. For example, the uninteneded consequence of little John-John playing with a ball in the house is that he accidentally knocks over his brother's dominos. He didn't mean to, but it happened because of his decision to play with a ball near his brother's dominos.
Sometimes there are positive unitended consequences. However, more often than not, complex problems that are “fixed” with a simple solution usually lead to negative ones.
Does the KBRA have unitended consequences? Of course it does. Here are just a few:
For those living in the Klamath Basin, math has changed a bit. If you asked a local what “2+2 equals”, they would tell you “4” . If you asked someone what “4+4 equals”, they would say “8”. And if you asked them what “KBRA equals” they would reply, "Jobs."
Really? KBRA = Jobs? That's the answer?
Hmmm. Let's review the back-work to this equation to make sure there aren't any mistakes.